AMT 1/32 TIE Build

Antsnest

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
According to Santa I was good this year and he brought me the new AMT 1/32nd TIE Fighter I'd asked for.

A really nice looking kit and it's been designed to make lighting easy but there's a few small tweaks I've decided to do to improve this a little
more.

The one major issue I did have with the kit out of the box, was that one half of the cockpit ball was pretty badly deformed in one corner. There
was a mis-alignment of nearly half an inch when the other two connection points were held together - far to much to just try and strap while
glueing. I'm not sure if this happened in transit - the box is very stuffed with parts - or whether it was deformed after pulling from the mold
whilst still warm.

My initial thought was to try to warm the part in very hot water (just off the boil) and hope I could pull it back into shape, but as it happened
after being submerged for 10-20 seconds it mostly returned to shape on it's own. A small misalignment remains, but this is now easily pulled into
place. I didn't take any pics before I heated it, but this is what I'm left with.

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On to the enhancements - the 2 laser cannons are provided as clear inserts that fit into the fuselage and can be lit from behind, but only the
center part should be clear and ther rest needs to be light blocked and painted. The detail at the very front of these pieces is a bit simplified
and does not really represent the old style 5mm LED panel clips that were used, back to front, for these on the studio model, so I decided to
design and print some replacements. These now feature a separate inner lens part that will ultimately be printed in clear, but for now I just
printed test pieces in grey along with the outer tube which features the more accurate 'nozzle'

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The back of the tube is hollowed out to 3mm to allow the direct insertion of a 3mm LED.
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The engines on the rear also feature clear parts designed to be lit from inside, and while there is _some_ space between the cockpit ball and the
inside of the outer fuselage, there is not much and it looked like it would be fiddly to get something to line up properly. So out with the CAD
again and I made a couple of tiny little gizmos that will each hold a tiny 1206 SMD LED at exactly the right angle and position to shine directly
out of the engine port on each side. These fit snugly in the available space inside without getting in the way.

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For the rest of the cockpit lighting I plan to make up a small PCB to sit in the lower section of the TIE and shine up some red LEDs through the
transparent floor. Number and placement still to be determined.
 
A bit more random progress. Given the size of this kit, I decided to have a go at making the wings removable for shipping to shows and storage. I had some long Neodymium magnets kicking around that fit perfectly into the wing attachment points, so I bashed up some brackets on the FDM printer to hold them in exactly the right place in each half so they mate perfectly.
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They may end up being a bit too strong...

I've also drafted up the lighting module - it will have 2 glowing engine LEDs, random firing laser LEDs and I've gone for 11 more to illuminate the cockpit from underneath, spread across the open areas of floor. I've no idea if this will be enough or too much, but rather than spend weeks experimenting I just made a decision and ran with it.

A quick print out on paper to make sure everything is in the right place. I was surprised at how round the cockpit base wasn't.....
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Small weekend update - made some little covers to block some of the light from the gun LEDs - I'm using very high intensity types and there's a lot of spill. These were made from some fragments of 5mm styrene tube, tediously filed into shape.
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You can see them here between the inner and outer shells.
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Also, given the number of times I've snapped together and popped apart the fuselage, I decided to cut the locating pins down considerably before I broke them off completely. It's much easier now!
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Sanding the pins a bit to reduce the diameter helps also... they are designed to be smidge larger than the socket so the plastice deforms to "hold" onto the pin. I'm just glad the grab in this case wasn't more 'permanent'!
R/ Robert
 
I am surprised this kit appears to have an accurate interior! Unfortunate about the warpage though, someone was too hasty in pulling the kit from the mold before it had sufficiently cooled to retain its shape, which is typically the case for this type of defect. I see it a lot on larger scale kits mostly. Nice work though, eager to see how this one build out against the Revell version.
 
Got the board built this weekend - here it is uncovered. The LEDs look white here but that's just the camera!
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and in situ
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I painted the top of the floor panel with some light blocking black primer - still need to go over this with grey later. I found it was easier to stipple the paint onto the surface texture with a sponge rather than trying to mask all the slots or free-hand it.
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I slid in a diffuse between the LEDs and the underside of the floor cut from a piece of matt laminating film. The overall effect was pretty much what I was going for.
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I also had to do some serious light blocking on the gun LEDs - despite only putting a milliamp or 2 through these when they fire, they are extremely bright!
 
Ok so I failed to take enough in-progress pics but this is where we currently are...
I pre-shaded all the nooks and crannies of the bodywork with a thinned down black and then went back over with Tamiya XF83 Medium Sea Grey as the main colour (I'm very much a "TIE Fighters are grey" kinda guy).
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This was given a couple of coats of Kleer before applying the decals.
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The inside of the cockpit was given the same treatment.
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I tried using the starfield decal for the back viewport and this is where I started to run into real problems with the decals. This one requires setting solution to get it to conform to irregularities around the perimeter, but I found it really wasn't responsive to softening. Out of 3 different systems from Humbrol, Gunze and Microscale, only the Microscale MicroSet (blue) seemed to have any real softening effect. However there was an additional problem in that after conforming to shape, as the decal dried out, it just returned to it's flat shape. Repeated applications just repeated this result.
One thing I did notice was that on wetting, the decals immediately came away from the backing paper - in 50 years of modelling I've never seen this happen so fast, and I wondered if there was an issue with insufficient glue in the first place which was preventing the decal staying conformed as it dried. Anyone else have this issue?.
In the end I scraped the whole sorry mess off and painted the starfield myself - achieved by flicking white paint from the end of a stiff brush with my finger. Looks OK I think...
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I had an even worse time with the pilot decals and again ended up scrapping them completely and painting the detail instead. It doesn't look brilliant, but still better than the decals - and of course the Empire emblem decals have not been printed correctly anyway. I drew the symbol in (badly) with a 0.01 Pigma Micron marker.
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The bodywork was given a wash using a custom mix of Florey Concrete and Dark Dirt. This is brushed all over and left to dry, and then all the excess is wiped off again with a damp cloth - leaving the wash in just the recesses. It was then all fixed and the gloss removed with a coat of AK Ultra Matte varnish.
A final pre-check of the lighting before I get on to gluing the whole thing together...
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